I can stay sober. I can be my old self again, whatever that was.

I guess my “old self” had more ability to concentrate on work and getting things accomplished. I can do that now but the sprawl of what I could or should be doing expands exponentially. So much to wade through, hours and hours of audio, piecing together video in time-consuming ways… And for what? Never a clear expectation or outcome.

My passions have become my walks. I reach out for the women I’ve known, the ones still in this area. I pass by the stripper’s place every day, sometimes multiple times. It ended badly with us but not horribly, and I consider future hookups with her a real possibility. I’ve become what I would have considered promiscuous just a few years ago. Until Covid I was seeing 3 women at once, this after a life of declaring myself constitutionally incapable of cheating on a woman. I had no real scruples about this because everyone knew, and at least one of the women I was seeing was screwing around as well. It didn’t feel like cheating, but what I guess is called ethical non-monogamy. Of the three women one was a 63-year old Chinese with a big house in Jamaica. Another was a slight young Japanese. She called herself Vivia but I suspect that was an Americanized pseudonym. She could not have weighed more than 80 pounds, but she wore it well. I call her the Japanese Waif. She ended up being the most interesting of these woman, but not on account of the sex or our relationship. She turned out to be a compulsive shoplifter, and a real pain in the ass for storeowners in Flushing, as well as for ICE, which was charged with investigating her activities. She was here illegally. Arrived legally but let her papers go. I knew nothing about the shoplifting until one day a call from her housemate came, explaining the whole sorry mess, and that she had 24 hours to get out. He assured me she’d be taken care of in Japan, with family and a house. We were only fuckbuddies but I liked her, I felt I had enough basis to feel some loss and chagrin at her sudden departure.

Why talk about this again? Nothing to add, nothing to take away. Well, there is plenty more to add but who has time for novels anymore…

I always think quitting the booze is going to be a big huge deal but it really is, at least not the first night. I have to reacclimate myself to the bedroom ritual, which will now favor what I call my “sober” video game. It doesn’t matter what the game is but it is reserved for my bedtime sleepy-time to lull me to sleep, even though they say phone screens do not really do that — lull you to sleep. But it seems to work for me.

I get a lot less sleep when sober, but duration of sleep seems irrelevant sometimes. I wake through the night with heptic jerks (that sounds the name of a band) but I’ve come to expect those and even enjoy the adventure of plunging into one dream and rambling about it for what seems like eternity, then bolt awake to the shock of my arm spazzing out or my legs jolting as if electrically.

Sleep is definitely an adventure, though, without the sedative help of booze. I now record myself sleeping, something I set up for generally wholesome reasons, notwithstanding the fact that I am fully naked and exposed much of the time.

I don’t think a man who sleeps naked would shock a nation, as long as they were not expected to see it.

My reasons for setting up a live bedcam are to see if I sleepwalk, to see if I trash and gnash as often as bed partners have said, and also to just open a little window into that one third of my life I mostly forget. It’s been amusing but daunting to wake up to 8+ hours of video and decide what to actually do with it all.

One passing vision from the sleepcam that has lingered is the drunk, wasted, useless look on my face. I should try and capture that, though it appears infrequently.

Use of this video took a different turn in recent months. I had been storing the videos to Flickr. Flickr does not let you store longer videos but these are 1-minute long, to be concatenated for the seamless full-length 8+hours.

Somehow Flickr’s algo woke up to these black and white images from a surveillance/security camera and concluded these were voyeuristic videos, documenting someone at sleep without their consent or knowledge.

How I could be recording myself without my own consent or knowledge is the obvious question, but try asking it of a steely bot from a noreply@flickr.com address.

There was no chance for a hearing or contact with live humans in this affair, in which the automated email from Flickr sounded creepier than anything they were trying to make me out to be. The subject line — “No Voyeur” — sounded like the whisper of a druid somewhere. The subject line is not inaccurate, though. There really is “No Voyeur” here. Just a guy watching himself sleep to see if he sleepwalks or levitates 6 feet into the air while sound asleep.

Apparently it was decided, possibly by an actual human, that I was recording these images of myself sleeping with the intent of masturbating to them later. That was the most fucked up thing I’d encountered lately from the world of bots gone wrong when there is absolutely nothing you can do to about it.